Pumping out a boat means removing the waste from the vessel's holding tank and disposing of it safely in compliance with local laws.
Pumping out a boat will keep the vessel clean and fresh on all boating trips and ensure there is not an overflow of sewage or a foul odor onboard.
There are 3 ways a boat owner can pump out a boat including using a boat marina pump out facility, hiring a mobile pump out service, or pumping out a boat at home.
Ideally, pumping out a boat should be done at a marina as this is much cheaper than buying a pump out machine and doing it manually at home.
Pumping out a boat can be done in 6 steps.
To pump out a boat:
- Dock the boat at a marina
- Remove the cap from the boat's waste holding tank
- Insert the pump out machine hose nozzle into the boat's waste holding tank
- Turn on the pump out suction pump
- Rinse the boat's waste tank with bleach & water
- Disconnect the nozzle and recoil the suction hose
Following these pump out steps will completely remove waste from the boat.
1. Dock The Boat At A Marina With A Pump Out Facility
The first step of pumping out a boat is to dock the boat at a nearby marina with a waste pump out facility.
Boat owners should contact their local marinas to ensure the marina has the required waste pump out station.
Once it is confirmed that the marina has a waste pump out station, a boat owner should transport their vessel to the marina and dock the boat within reach of the pump out facility.
A waste pump out station at a marina is typically a large container shaped in a rectangle shape. This large container is where the waste from your boat and other boats at the marina will be pumped into and stored.
The large container will have a hose with a nozzle attached to it too. There will be buttons on the waste pump out container to turn the suction hose on and off.
2. Remove The Cap From The Boat's Waste Holding Tank
The second step of pumping out a boat is to remove the cap from the boat's waste holding tank.
Get a pair of disposable gloves and a face mask to protect against bacteria and open the waste holding tank access point on your boat.
The access point to a boat's waste tank is usually located on the deck or at the top of a boat's hull.
A boat owner can read their specific boat owner's manual to find the specific location of their waste tank access point.
3. Insert The Pump Out Machine Hose Nozzle Into The Boat's Waste Tank
The third step of pumping out a boat is to insert the pump out machine hose nozzle into the boat's waste tank access point.
The pump out machine at the marina will come with a hose and a nozzle. Insert the nozzle into the boat's waste tank access point.
To ensure the nozzle fits into the boat's waste tank access point, you may need an adapter to make it fit. A marina will generally offer adapters to purchase for $20.
Uncoiling the hose and fitting the nozzle into the boat's waste tank access point will take 2 minutes to do.
4. Turn The Suction Pump On
The fourth step to pumping out the boat's waste tank is to turn the suction pump on.
After the nozzle is connected, turn on the suction pump and pump out the waste until the boat's waste tank is completely empty.
The hose will have a sightglass where you can see the waste being sucked out. Typically, this will alert you as to when the tank has been emptied.
Pumping out the boat's waste tank until it is completely empty should take 20 minutes to complete. This will vary based on the size of the waste tank and the amount of waste in the tank.
5. Rinse The Boat's Waste Tank With Bleach & Fresh Water
The fifth step of pumping out a boat is to rinse the boat's emptied waste tank with bleach and water.
Pour bleach into the emptied waste tank and rinse the tank using fresh water until the waste tank is 1/4 full with dirty water and bleach.
Use half a cup of bleach in the tank so that the seals do not get damaged.
Bleach is beneficial because it will help to kill the remaining bacteria in the boat's waste tank and it will help stop any foul odors.
Reattach the suction pump nozzle and pump out the dirty rinse water and bleach until the waste holding tank is empty again.
Rinsing the boat with bleach and fresh water takes 5 minutes.
6. Disconnect The Nozzle & Recoil The Suction Hose
The sixth step of pumping out a boat is to disconnect the nozzle and recoil the suction hose.
Once the boat's waste tank has been emptied again, disconnect the nozzle and recoil the hose at the pump out machine.
Dip the head of the nozzle into a bucket of water for 15 seconds so the pump out nozzle is clean for other boaters in the marina.
Seal the boat's waste holding tank cap. Use a towel to quickly scrub around the waste holding tank access point cap.
Dispose of your disposable gloves in a bin.
Products Needed For Pumping Out A Boat
The products needed for pumping out a boat are:
- Bucket with fresh water
- Disposable gloves
- Pump out machine with a suction pump
- Disposable cloth
Frequently Asked Questions About Pumping Out A Boat
Below are the most commonly asked questions about pumping out a boat.
What Are The Methods Of Pumping Out A Boat?
There are 3 methods of pumping out a boat which are:
- Pumping out a boat manually at home
- Pumping out a boat at a marina with a pump out facility
- Hiring a boat pump out service
What Are The Benefits Of Pumping Out A Boat?
The benefits of pumping out a boat are:
- Removes waste
- Removes foul odors
- Prevents damage to the waste tank
- Ensures the toilets are fully functional onboard
What Are The Risks Of Pumping Out A Boat?
The risks of pumping out a boat are:
- Can accidentally spill waste all over the boat
- Can spill waste into the water and cause pollution
- Can accidentally clog the boat's waste tank valve
How Long Does It Take To Pump Out A Boat?
Pumping out a boat takes approximately 20 minutes to complete. However, this timeframe will vary based on the size of the boat's waste tank and the amount of waste in the waste tank.
How Much Does It Cost To Pump Out A Boat?
The cost to pump out a boat is approximately $40 at a marina. This will vary based on the size of the boat waste tank.
How Much Does It Cost To Hire A Pump Out Service Business To Pump Out Your Boat?
Hiring a pump out service business to pump out your boat costs $50 for waste holding tanks of 50 gallons or less. For tanks over 50 gallons, it is an additional cost of $1 per gallon.
What Is The Easiest Way To Pump Out A Boat?
The easiest way to pump out a boat is by hiring a boat pump out service to do the pump out work for you.
What Is The Hardest Way To Pump Out A Boat?
The hardest way to pump out a boat is by doing the pump out work at home when a boat is in storage or on a trailer.
What Is The Best Way To Pump Out A Boat?
The best way to pump out a boat is by pumping it out at a local marina with a pump out facility. This is the best way because it is the fastest to do.
When Is The Best Time To Pump Out A Boat?
The best time to pump out the boat is when the waste tank is 3 quarters full of waste.
When Is The Worst Time To Pump Out A Boat?
The worst time to pump out a boat is when the waste tank is filled over capacity and there is a smell onboard.
What Are The Differences Between Pumping Out A Boat At Home Compared To Pumping Out A Boat At A Marina?
The differences between pumping out a boat at home compared to pumping out a boat at a marina are:
- Pumping a boat out at home requires the boat owner to purchase a pump out machine to complete the pump out whereas pumping out at a marina does not require the boat owner to own a pump out machine
- It is cheaper to pump out at a marina in a marina with a cost of $40 compared to pumping out at home which can cost over $1,000 for all the products required
Should A Boat Be Pumped Out Before Winterizing It?
Yes, a boat should be pumped out before winterizing it. Pumping the waste out of the boat before winterization will prevent potential damage as the boat is in storage. It will also prevent any foul odors.